Movement and Gait

As a novice to conformation (but not to dogs and the work of dogs), I have become increasingly aware of form, structure and movement and how it relates to my breed. Up till now, my focus on movement was purely from a medical standpoint, and involves scrutinizing gaiting dogs for signs of lameness and structural disease.

Our eyes give us a lot of information on animals in motion before radiographs are even taken. Radiographs are obviously very helpful and do show us loose knees, shallow hip sockets and bad elbows, but loads of information regarding the animal’s overall soundness and workability can only be obtained by actually watching the dog in action.

Consequently, I can’t help but spend a great deal of time observing my own dogs gait and move, and there have been some good and bad things I thought might be interesting to share:

Beebe is Pacing Again

Beebe paces, description of gaits in dogs, as in, the legs on one side swing forward and backwards in unison, like a giraffe or harness racing horse. She does this for several reasons. She has a roached back and very low set tail which further angles her hips down. As a result, she would step on herself if she were to try moving correctly at a trot (which she can’t). When she is forced to stop pacing, she crabs sideways with her rear feet moving off to the side of her body to help her avoid stepping on her front feet. The crabbing is also intensified by her longer legs in the rear.

When I look at her body type, it seems to be similar to that of a whippet. She looks spring loaded like a sight hound with her sprung up back. Unlike a sight hound, however, at a walk and trot she wastes a lot of energy with all the bouncing and trying to avoid tripping on her front legs. She therefore prefers to either pace, lope or run. For some strange reason, she physically excels at Flyball and Agility, when everything about her conformation tells me she ought to be lame.

A wonderful book on gait and movement is Dog Steps by Rachel Page Elliot

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